Last month, I commented on all the critical articles running in the Marine Corps Gazette, saying that one could imagine "the commandant sitting down to read the Gazette in his easy chair one evening and having his hair standing on end after reading an article or two."
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
So, little grasshoppers, I remember some 20 years ago I was visiting an experimental Army unit that was field testing new technologies and, just as importantly, new organizational structures to best use them.
About 18 months ago, I submitted an article to the Marine Corps Gazette about integrating women into the combat arms. I received an unexpected response from the editor stating that the Gazette was not interested in articles that were “thinly veiled ad hominem attacks on the Commandant.” The Armed Forces Journal took a different view and published my article. In the intervening year, I have watched the Gazette publish multiple articles that patently support an anti-women Marines stance. But the most egregious example is the article that the Gazette published this month with the tagline that it had received first place in the Maj. General Harold W. Chase essay contest. This article, “Why Women Don’t Belong in the Infantry,” garnered a number of heated responses from both men and women. Two noteworthy challenges came from Marine men. The Gazette published one piece that challenged why this was an award-worthy article, saying that it is “neither bold nor daring” to advocate for the status quo. The other called the article “sororicide” because it was written by a woman who said that women who want to serve this country in the infantry are selfish.
As a former Marine infantry officer, I found it illustrating to pick up this month’s issue of the Marine Corps Gazette and discover that our infantry is a “cult-like brotherhood ... the one place where young men are able to focus solely on being a warrior without the distraction of women or political correctness.” I will admit that I found this to be a rather sweeping assessment, but it’s how at least one Marine officer who has never served in the infantry imagines it to be. In truth, Capt. Lauren Serrano is not entirely wrong. Marines do “fart, burp, tell raunchy jokes, walk around naked, swap sex stories, wrestle,” etc. Although to be fair, the Marine Corps infantry --- or male Marines alone for that matter --- does not have a monopoly on juvenile humor (see here or here for NSFW examples). And while Serrano failed to mention Marines lighting fires (my experience shows that grunts will usually build a fire before they get naked), I doubt many officers would disagree with her general observations about infantry behavior.